Attitudes Research

These resources can be used by Program team members to educate others on why and how Special Olympics changes attitudes. This is at the crux of the Special Olympics movement and a focus area in the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.

OVERVIEW

Share evidence of Special Olympics’ impact through these summaries of Special Olympics research that include ready-to-share printouts designed for Programs.

  • Best Stats for Attitudes (PDF): This one-pager provides the most compelling data points about Special Olympics attitudes in easy-to-use bullet points and infographics.
  • Why Research Attitudes (PDF:) Attitude change is at the crux of the Special Olympics movement. Read this short overview to help explain why it's so important that Special Olympics research attitudes.
  • Public Attitudes Toward People with Intellectual Disabilities (PDF): Due to the impact that public attitudes have on the lives of people with ID, documenting these attitudes has been one of the cornerstones of Special Olympics research. Since 2001, surveys of public attitudes have been conducted in 14 countries representing all Special Olympics regions. Discover more in this summary of several studies.
  • Changing Attitudes through Special Olympics(PDF): Evaluations have found that Special Olympics programs are changing the attitudes of parents, athletes, health care professionals, students, and the general public. For example, one evaluation in Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia found that the majority of Unified football partners felts that their understanding of people with ID improved after their participation (79%).
  • Attitude Research - Key Findings(PDF): Evaluations have found that Special Olympics programs are changing the attitudes of parents, athletes, health care professionals, students, and the general public. For example, one evaluation in Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia found that the majority of Unified football partners felts that their understanding of people with ID improved after their participation (79%).

CHARTS AND GRAPHS

Use and customize these charts and graphs to help illustrate some key research findings.

RESEARCH ARTICLES

Access research articles that go into more detail on some of the findings shared in the overview section.

  • Impact of the Special Olympics World Games on the Attitudes of Youth in China (PDF): Read more on the study about middle school students pre- and post-World Games in 2007. It is clear from the results that World Games left a positive impression on many of the youth, with the most significant changes among the youth who had the opportunity to be directly involved in the Games.
  • Multinational Study of Attitudes toward Individuals with ID (webpage): Read the first study of "hard" evidence examining attitudes toward people with ID around the world. The study was conducted in 10 countries across the world, with 8,000 persons responding. Overall, the survey shows that the general population lacks an appreciation of the range of capabilities of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and therefore has low expectations of how much people with ID can achieve.
  • Changing Attitudes Changing the World - A Study of Youth Attitudes about Intellectual Disabilities (webpage): Read more on this groundbreaking study of how Japanese youth view individuals with ID that helps begin to demonstrate attitudes concerning individuals with ID. This study supplements findings on the attitudes of Japanese adults in a survey commissioned by Special Olympics and released in 2003. While widespread negative attitudes toward people with ID exist throughout Japan (and worldwide), the youth population is more receptive to potential interaction with people with ID in the school setting and is the best source of encouraging positive attitudinal change.
  • Media's Portrayal of People with Intellectual Disabilities (PDF): Read this policy paper that illustrates how popular media portrays people with ID, and it's oftentimes unrealistic and limiting. The one-dimensional victim often portrayed in popular media accounts bears little resemblance to the actual lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
  • Attitudes of the Public in India toward People with Intellectual Disabilities (PDF): See this study which indicates most individuals with ID in India are excluded by society. Special Olympics Bharat (India) features more than 1 million athletes and a barrier to inclusion many of them face is in part due to the rigid social structure within the society.
  • Attitudes of the Public in South Africa Toward People with Intellectual Disabilities (PDF): Overcoming negative attitudes is a challenge in every country around the world, including South Africa. This research indicates that 65% of people in South Africa do not know about Special Olympics.
  • Survey of Adult and Youth Reactions to Public Showing of The Ringer (PDF): See this two-page excerpt that shows viewers of The Ringer overwhelmingly agree that the movie has positive social impact.
  • Changing Attitudes through Special Olympics (PDF): Evaluations have found that Special Olympics programs are changing the attitudes of parents, athletes, health care professionals, students, and the general public. For example, one evaluation in Austria, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia found that the majority of Unified football partners felts that their understanding of people with ID improved after their participation (79%).